MOVING TO EQUITY: Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities

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1 MOVING TO EQUITY: Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities By Thomas W. Sanchez, Rich Stolz, and Jacinta S. Ma A Joint Report of

2 Copyright 2003 by President and Fellows of Harvard College Readers may quote from, copy, and distribute this work for educational purposes as long as the copyright holder and The Civil Rights Project at Harvard are properly acknowledged and the original work is not altered. Any reproduction or transmittal of any part of this publication for other purposes in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval systems, requires the written permission of The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. This publication should be cited as: Sánchez, Thomas W., Stolz, Rich, and Ma, Jacinta S. (2003). : Addressing Inequitable Effects of Transportation Policies on Minorities. Cambridge, MA: The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. Additional copies of this report may be obtained from: <http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/> The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University Center for Community Change 125 Mt. Auburn Street, Third Floor 1000 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Cambridge, MA Washington, DC (617) (202) ii

3 MOVING TO EQUITY: ADDRESSING INEQUITABLE EFFECTS OF TRANSPORTATION POLICIES ON MINORITIES TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgments...v Executive Summary...vi Introduction...1 U.S. Transportation Policy in Historical Context...3 A Legacy of Highway and Urban Renewal Projects in Minority Communities...3 Case Studies in Michigan and North Carolina...4 The Evolution of Federal Transportation Policy...4 Demographic Realities...7 Residence...7 Income and Wealth...8 Transportation Modes...9 Defining Transportation Equity...10 Transportation Costs and Inequities...11 Economic Impact of Transportation Policy on Low-Income and Minority Households...11 The Equity Costs of Fare Increases...13 Transportation Policy Favors Higher-Income Public Transit Riders...14 Disparities in Federal Funding by Geographic Area...15 Transportation Policies Indirect Economic and Social Effects...17 Spatial Mismatch...17 Transportation Policies and Access to Housing...19 Displacement...19 Gentrification...21 Access to Education...22 Transportation Policies and Health Effects...24 Air Pollution...24 Personal Safety...25 Unequal Access to Opportunities in the Transportation Construction Industry...26 Local Minority and Low-Income Hiring Preferences...27 Minorities and Women s Employment in Transportation Construction...28 Transportation Construction Opportunities for Minority and Women Contractors...28 Language Barriers...30 Minority and Low-Income Community Participation in Transportation Planning...32 Enforcement of Civil Rights and Environmental Laws...34 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of DOT s Enforcement of Civil Rights...36 National Environmental Policy Act of Policy Recommendations...38 Conclusion...40 Authors...41 Appendix...48 References...50 iii

4 LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES Table 1: Central-City Racial Composition of Selected Large Cities... 7 Table A.1: States Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program Contract Goals and Awards, Fiscal Years 1995 and Figure 1: Residential Segregation Indices for all U.S. Metropolitan Areas... 8 Figure 2: Users of Public Transportation to Travel to Work, by Race Figure 3: Household Transportation Spending, by Income Group Figure 4: Users of Public Transportation, by Race Figure 5: Modes of Transportation, by Household Income Figure 6: Federal Highway Spending in Maryland, by County iv

5 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This report was edited by Carol A. Bell. Matthew Colangelo authored portions of the U.S. Transportation Policy in Historical Context section. The authors would like to thank Angela Chan, Charu Chandrasekhar, and Arjumand Siddiqi for their research assistance. They also thank: For their thoughtful comments: Robert Puentes, Evelyn Blumenberg, Jon Carnegie, Donna Armstrong, Beverly Ward, and Anne Canby. For their valuable insights and information: Marc Brenman of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights, Jon Broadway of the Montgomery Transportation Coalition, Sean Thomas-Breitfeld of the National Council of LaRaza, Ed Morris and Charles Klemstine of the Federal Highway Administration Office of Civil Rights, and Michael Woo of the Northwest Labor and Employment Legal Office; also, the Civil Rights Issue Committee of the Transportation Equity Network, El Foro Latino (Mono County, CA), Los Angeles Bus Riders Union (Los Angeles, CA), SAGE Council (Albuquerque, NM), Riders of Vermont (Montpelier, VT), Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition (Los Angeles, CA), and Metropolitan Atlanta Transportation Equity Coalition (Atlanta, GA). For their contributions: Nancy Jakowitsch, Michelle Ernst, and Linda Bailey of the Surface Transportation Policy Project. In addition, the authors would like to recognize the work of the Co-Directors of The Civil Rights Project, Christopher Edley, Jr. and Gary Orfield, as well as the dedicated staff at CRP in particular, Angelo Ancheta, Jennifer Badot, and Marilyn Byrne and staff members Hubert Dixon, Melanie Bush, and Kamilah Woods of Center for Community Change, without whom this report would not have been possible. The authors and publishers are grateful to the Ford Foundation for its generous support. v

6 MOVING TO EQUITY: ADDRESSING INEQUITABLE EFFECTS OF TRANSPORTATION POLICIES ON MINORITIES EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Americans are increasingly mobile and ever more reliant on automobiles for meeting their travel needs, largely due to transportation policies adopted after World War II that emphasized highway development over public transportation. These and other transportation policies have had inequitable effects on minority and low-income populations, often restricting their ability to access social and economic opportunities, including job opportunities, education, health care services, places of worship, and other places such as grocery stores. Transportation policies limit access to opportunities through direct effects, such as inequitable costs, and indirect effects, such as residential segregation. The indirect effects are caused in part by the combined effects of transportation policies and land use practices. This report identifies surface transportation policies inequitable effects. It examines existing research in the area and highlights the critical need for more research and data collection related to the impact of transportation policies on minority and low-income communities. It also makes recommendations to address the racial injustices created by transportation policies. U.S. Transportation Policy in Historical Context Historically, although issues related to transportation were integral to the civil rights movement of the 1960s embodied in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Freedom Rides the civil rights implications of transportation policies were largely ignored until the 1990s. Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, it was common practice to construct major highways through low-income and minority communities. Similar policies and practices continue today and have led to destruction of thriving neighborhoods, eviction of minorities, and negative health effects. In the 1990s, the primary federal transportation funding law, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), changed the way funding was allocated and began to erode the long-standing preference for highway funding. In addition, ISTEA dramatically changed the way transportation projects were planned in metropolitan areas, providing significant responsibility and some funding to Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Building on these changes when ISTEA expired, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st Century (TEA-21) mandated increased public involvement in state and regional transportation planning. It also established grant programs to help serve the transportation needs of minority and low-income communities. TEA-21 is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2003, providing lawmakers an opportunity to make even more improvements and address the continuing inequities that minority and low-income communities experience. Demographic Realities Some general demographic facts provide a basis for understanding how transportation, race, poverty, and geography intersect. Although America s population is 69 percent white, 12 percent African American, 12.5 percent Latino, and 3.6 percent Asian American, the composition of major

7 cities and urban areas is quite different. Almost half of the 100 largest cities have predominantly minority populations, while whites live mostly in the suburbs. Disparities in poverty levels remain between whites and minorities. Whites have a poverty rate of only 5 percent, compared with 22 percent for African Americans, 20 percent for Latinos, and 10 percent for Asian Americans. Nationally, public transportation users are disproportionately minorities with low to moderate incomes. Overall, public transit users are 45 percent white, 31 percent African American, and 18 percent Latino/Hispanic. In urban areas, African Americans and Latinos together comprise 54 percent of public transportation users (62% of bus riders, 35% of subway riders, and 29% of commuter rail riders.) Twenty-eight percent of public transportation users have incomes of $15,000 or less, and 55 percent have incomes between $15,000 and $50,000. Only 17 percent have incomes above $50,000. Just 7 percent of white households do not own a car, compared with 24 percent of African-American households, 17 percent of Latino households, and 13 percent of Asian-American households. High Transportation Expenditures and Inequities in Transportation Funding Transportation costs are particularly burdensome for low-income households, which devote greater proportions of their incomes to transportation-related expenses than do higher-income households. In 1998, those in the lowest income quintile, making $11,943 or less, spent 36 percent of their household budget on transportation, compared with those in the highest income quintile, making $60,535 or more, who spent only 14 percent. Transportation expenditures continue to rise, reducing the amount low-income households have to spend on housing, food, health care, insurance, education, and other needs. The costs of car ownership can make it difficult to afford to purchase a home, and cars quickly depreciate compared with real property. Between 1992 and 2000, households with incomes of less than $20,000 saw the amount of their income spent on transportation increase by 36.5 percent or more (households with incomes between $5,000 and $9,999 spent 57 percent more on transportation than they did in 1992). In comparison, households with incomes of $70,000 and above only spent 16.8 percent more on transportation expenses than they did in There are significant inequities between bus service, which tends to serve more low-income riders, and rail service, which tends to serve higher-income riders. These inequities pale in comparison to the differences between governmental financial and political support for highway systems and for public transit systems. Many transportation planners and policymakers, concerned primarily with the needs of suburban commuters, have focused on constructing highways and commuter rail lines that do little to serve the needs of minority and low-income communities that depend on public transportation. Examination of state transportation spending priorities reveal another inequity. A body of research suggests that states are spending more resources on transportation needs in nonmetropolitan areas than in metropolitan areas. More research examining geographically coded data on spending between cities and other areas would provide a better understanding of how transportation spending patterns impact minority and low-income communities. vii

8 Indirect Economic and Social Effects Hinder Access to Opportunities Transportation policies that favor highway development over public transit have several indirect negative effects. For one, such policies encourage housing development increasingly farther away from central cities, which has played an important role in fostering residential segregation and income inequalities. Also, the practice of locating major highways in minority and low-income communities has reduced housing in those areas. Other transportation investments, such as extending a rail line into a community, have made it more difficult for minorities and low-income individuals living there to afford housing because of ensuing property value increases. Individuals displaced by rising property values commonly have few alternative housing options and may end up living farther away from their jobs and social networks a problem that is compounded by limited transportation options. Transportation policies favoring highways over transit have also helped to create spatial mismatch the disconnect that occurs when new entry-level and low-skill jobs are located on the fringes of urban areas that are inaccessible to central-city residents who need those jobs. Public transportation systems operate most efficiently in densely developed urban areas and do a poor job of serving people who need to reach destinations far from the core downtown area. Transportation policies can also have indirect negative effects in the areas of health and education: Highway construction in minority and low-income communities can impair health through increased pollution, and access to education may be limited by cutbacks in school bus service with no affordable public transit as an alternative. Many transportation planners and policymakers have failed to recognize the link between transportation and land use policies and the impact of transportation policy on access to social and economic opportunities. Also, they have not recognized the need to take a regional approach in trying to address the inequitable effects of transportation policy. Unequal Access to Opportunities in the Transportation Construction Industry Federal transportation spending creates hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars worth of contracts. Although construction projects are often located in or near minority communities, minorities are generally underrepresented in the construction industry or likely concentrated in low-paying jobs. Of the more than 6.25 million people employed in construction, just 7 percent are African Americans and 17 percent are Latinos/Hispanics. Minorities represent about 28 percent of the population, but according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) they own only 9 percent of construction firms and receive about 5 percent of construction receipts. DOT s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program works to remedy this inequality by requiring states to allocate a portion of their federal transportation dollars to construction opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses, including those owned and operated by minorities. viii

9 Language and Information Barriers Inequitable transportation policy decisions are often made because minority and low-income individuals and communities are unable to learn about transit options or have little voice in transportation planning because of language barriers or lack of information. Like other obstacles to transportation accessibility, language barriers diminish social and economic opportunities by limiting a person s ability to travel (such as by preventing a person from obtaining a drivers license), which is exacerbated by their inability to communicate to policymakers and planners about transportation needs. Minimal Outreach to Minority Communities in the Transportation Planning Process How transportation policies are decided and who is able to influence those decisions have played an important role in creating and sustaining the inequities of current transportation policies. State departments of transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations are responsible for planning transportation in a way that achieves the greatest system efficiency, mobility, and access while addressing environmental and social concerns. Although these agencies are required to seek out and consider the needs of low-income and minority households, there are no effective mechanisms to ensure their compliance with this requirement. Ineffective Legal Protections and Lack of Accountability Civil rights laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and environmental laws provide some legal protections for minority communities faced with discriminatory transportation policies. Enforcement of these protections, however, has been limited and should be increased. Currently there are no generally accepted measures or standards by which to gauge whether transportation planning and outcomes of transportation policies are equitable, and it is extremely difficult to enforce any requirements for equitable transportation policies. Primary Policy Recommendations In the past decade, federal transportation policies have taken some important steps toward becoming more equitable for minority and low-income individuals and communities. Much more needs to be done, however, and the expiration of TEA-21 provides an opportunity for action. Implementation of the following recommendations would significantly support moving to equity: Increase funding for public transit and develop new programs and support existing ones that improve minority and low-income individuals mobility. Establish enforceable standards to measure whether the benefits and burdens of transportation policies are distributed equitably to minority and low-income communities. Increase funding for research that examines transportation equity, and improve data collection including by collecting geographically coded data to provide a better basis for evaluating the effects of transportation policies. Increase funding for enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Environmental Policy Act, and improve efforts to enforce them. Recognize the interaction between transportation, land use, and social equity, and support programs that address these effects. ix

10 MOVING TO EQUITY: ADDRESSING INEQUITABLE EFFECTS OF TRANSPORTATION POLICIES ON MINORITIES By Thomas W. Sanchez, Rich Stolz, and Jacinta S. Ma INTRODUCTION Transportation plays a vital role in our society. In fact, the Supreme Court recognized that the right to travel is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 1 Given the important role of transportation, it would be expected that policymakers would battle over transportation policy. Too often, however, those battles are fought over what specific projects will be funded and in which states or congressional districts, and scant attention is paid to the larger social and economic effects of transportation policies. The civil rights movement provides some evidence of the social importance of transportation to people of color. In 1955, the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give her seat on a bus to a white rider sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Freedom Riders faced violent attacks to assert the rights of African Americans to ride on integrated buses traveling interstate. Many past and current transportation policies have limited the life chances of minorities by preventing access to places and opportunities. The expiration in 2003 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st Century (TEA-21) provides an opportunity to address some of the inequitable effects that transportation policies have on minority and low-income communities. Americans have become increasingly mobile and more reliant on automobiles to meet their travel needs due largely to transportation policies adopted after World War II that emphasized highway development over public transportation. According to Census 2000 data, less than five percent of trips to work in urban areas were made by public transit, but this varies significantly by race and location. 2 Minorities, however, are less likely to own cars than whites and are more often dependent on public transportation. The transit-dependent must often rely on public transportation not only to travel to work, but also to get to school, obtain medical care, attend religious services, and shop for basic necessities such as groceries. The transit-dependent commonly have low incomes and thus, in addition to facing more difficulties getting around, they face economic inequities as a result of transportation policies oriented toward travel by car. Surface transportation policies at the local, regional, state, and national levels have a direct impact on urban land use and development patterns. The types of transportation facilities and services in which public funds are invested provide varying levels of access to meet basic social and economic needs. The way communities develop land dictates the need for certain types of transportation, and on the other hand, the transportation options in which communities invest influence patterns of urban development. While many lament the trend toward suburban sprawl as unaesthetic or damaging to the environment, those who support social equity should also be concerned about this trend. Substantial investment in highway development and other transportation programs that 1

11 encourage private automobile use has encouraged and supported low-density developments that extend increasingly farther and farther from the central city and to residential and commercial areas that are increasingly spread out edgeless cities. 3 In addition to being costly to state and local governments, 4 transportation policies that encourage these growth patterns play a substantial role in producing some indirect, negative social and economic effects, including perpetuating residential segregation and exacerbating the inability of minorities to access entrylevel employment, which is increasingly found in suburban areas. 5 This report reviews existing data and research regarding the economic and social effects of transportation policies. While the data suggest that these policies have inequitable effects on minority and low-income communities, more research is necessary to further understand the effects of transportation policies on minorities, particularly those living in the suburbs. We first provide historical background and demographic context for the remainder of the report. Next, we examine existing data about the costs of transportation and how these costs combined with current transportation policy priorities have inequitable effects on low-income minorities. We then identify indirect inequitable economic and social effects of surface transportation policies on minorities and examine existing research in this area. These indirect effects include inequitable access to employment and housing, and education and health disparities. The report then delves into the issue of unequal access to opportunities for construction jobs and contracts created by federal transportation programs. We next focus on the role of language barriers in access to transportation and participation in the transportation planning process, and examine the issue of minority participation in transportation planning processes. Following discussion of enforcement of civil rights and environmental laws, we close with policy recommendations and conclusions. Efforts to improve the fairness of transportation policies must first recognize the complexities and wide impact of those policies on civil rights, mobility, land use, and the environment. These efforts must also include setting easily enforceable standards to measure whether the benefits and burdens of transportation policies are distributed equitably to minority and low-income communities. 6 Transportation researchers and scholars are increasingly recognizing the importance of social equity, largely due to the successful efforts of grassroots organizations to draw attention to the unfairness of transportation policies. An executive committee member of The National Academies Transportation Research Board predicted in 1999 that [e]quity will be one of the major themes in transportation policy for the coming decade, and called for more analysis and discussion of the distribution of costs and benefits of transportation projects to minority communities. 7 The environmental justice movement has addressed some of the inequitable effects of transportation polices on racial minorities and brought attention to the issue of transportation equity. Environmental justice efforts, however, have primarily drawn attention to governmental policies that negatively and inequitably affect the natural environment in areas with concentrated minority populations (and consequently negative health effects). 8 Historically, transportation equity has been largely ignored by the vast majority of transportation planners and researchers. Transportation policy inequities should be addressed both through environmental justice efforts and through traditional transportation analyses about access and mobility. We hope that this 2

12 report, by further defining the issues, will compel policymakers, researchers, and administrators who work on transportation policies to recognize the critical need to support transportation equity as part of their work. U.S. TRANSPORTATION POLICY IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT Transportation issues have been central to the civil rights movement from its inception, in ways both symbolic and systemic. In 1892, Homer A. Plessy, an African American, attempted to sit in the whites-only section of a segregated railway car. The Supreme Court, in its infamous Plessy v. Ferguson 9 decision, created the separate-but-equal doctrine and held constitutional the state statute that required different races to use different railway cars. 10 During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, much of the discussion about transportation issues for minority and low-income persons revolved around land use patterns and the social and economic conditions of urban areas. Shortly following the civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1965, the California governor appointed a commission chaired by John McCone (McCone Commission) to examine the causes of the unrest. The McCone Commission identified inadequate and costly transportation as contributing to high rates of unemployment among the black urban population. 11 In 1968, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (commonly known as the Kerner Commission) released its report on the causes and effects of riots in U.S. cities. Among its recommendations for enhanced employment opportunities for central-city residents was the creation of improved transportation links between ghetto neighborhoods and new job locations in the suburbs. 12 In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., described how city planning decisions result in transportation systems that underserve minority communities: Urban transit systems in most American cities... have become a genuine civil rights issue and a valid one because the layout of rapid-transit systems determines the accessibility of jobs to the African-American community. If transportation systems in American cities could be laid out so as to provide an opportunity for poor people to get meaningful employment, then they could begin to move into the mainstream of American life. 13 A Legacy of Highway and Urban Renewal Projects in Minority Communities Post World War II surface transportation policies were not favorable to minority and low-income communities. Many older residents of such communities across the country clearly remember the impact that new major highway construction had on their neighborhoods. Generally, federal and state agencies sited highway projects in low-income communities, typically using the rationale that property values were lower. Because of this practice, a great deal of resentment developed in minority and low-income communities toward highway construction that began in the 1950s and 1960s as part of slum clearance and urban renewal strategies and displaced or physically divided entire communities. These types of highway construction projects occurred during a time when federal transportation policy did little more than allocate large amounts of money to build interstate highways. 3

13 Case Studies in Michigan and North Carolina Two case studies highlight the experiences of predominantly minority communities that fought efforts to build highways through their neighborhoods. Both communities were forced to resort to legal action because residents concerns were not heeded by transportation planners and agencies. Hamtramck, Michigan, a city within a city it is almost entirely surrounded by the city of Detroit now promotes itself as a diverse community, but from 1959 to 1965 approximately 1,800 African-American families were displaced from their homes as part of various urban renewal and revitalization strategies. 14 In 1959, 600 African-American Hamtramck families were removed to make room for a parking lot; several years later, another 1,200 families, mostly African Americans, were moved to make room for Interstate 75. The freeway isolated the Grand Haven Dyar neighborhood, which was primarily African American, cutting it off from the rest of Hamtramck, including schools, churches, shops, restaurants, and other amenities. In 1971, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against Hamtramck in a class-action case challenging the city s transportation decisions as discriminatory displacement. The judge s ruling described the city s action as Negro Removal. In late 2002, the Hamtramck City Council finally settled the 30-year old civil rights lawsuit, and plans are under way to build replacement homes for many of the families displaced by the interstate highway. 15 In James City, North Carolina, several major transportation projects had already been built in or near the almost 100 percent African-American community that disrupted its economic and community life when the Neuse River Bridge project was proposed. 16 U.S. highway 70, built in the 1970s, literally paved over a historic cemetery that was important to the James City community. In the early 1990s, an airport runway expansion project forced the condemnation of homes and damaged other historic cemeteries of local importance. Advocacy and legal efforts halted plans to run the Neuse River Bridge project, a massive highway bridge and interchange system, right through the center of James City. Eventually, however, the project was sited in another part of the city. 17 The experiences of Hamtramck and James City are not unique. Dozens of communities across the nation were treated similarly as highways were built through and near them. Residents point to highway construction in cities as diverse as Los Angeles; Memphis, Tennessee; New Orleans; Canton, Ohio; and New York City as a significant contributor to economic and neighborhood blight in previously stable low-income and minority communities. The Evolution of Federal Transportation Policy During the 1970s and 1980s, no significant federal efforts were directed toward ensuring transportation equity, 18 and displacement of minorities and destruction of minority communities because of highway construction continued. During this period, however, federal support for public transportation increased, which indirectly benefited low-income, racial minorities through the development and expansion of urban transit systems. These benefits were limited because the 4

14 amounts invested in public transportation were dwarfed by amounts invested in building highways. Federal transportation funding went directly to state departments of transportation, which had sole discretion to decide which projects to fund. Federal policy heavily encouraged states to spend on highways by making highway projects eligible for the highest level of federal matching funds four dollars in federal funding for every dollar the state contributed. 19 The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) was the first major federal transportation policy to give any consideration to the health, economic, and social effects of transportation policy on racial minority and low-income communities. Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low- Income Populations, 20 issued in 1994, went even further by clarifying that federal agencies must identify and address any disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations in all of their programs, policies, and activities. ISTEA, 21 enacted by Congress in 1991, addressed a number of the most significant flaws in previous transportation funding policies. ISTEA included clear (if easy-to-evade) requirements for public participation in transportation planning and provided for some local control of the allocation of federal transportation money. The new law represented a dramatic departure from the previous system of transportation planning; one congressperson noted several years after its passage that ISTEA was not simply a highway bill, or even a highway and transit bill. Instead, it restructured the entire process by which we planned and carried out surface transportation improvements in the United States. 22 One of the more noteworthy changes was that ISTEA made Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) primarily responsible for planning and allocating transportation funding in metropolitan areas by giving funds directly to them. 23 Although MPOs had been in existence since the 1950s, generally operating either as a subdivision of the state department of transportation or as a function of a regional council of governments, ISTEA and the U.S. Department of Transportation s (DOT s) implementing regulations made them more influential and gave them uniform functions and responsibilities. 24 ISTEA also broadened the membership of the policy-setting boards of MPOs governing large areas, requiring that they include representatives from local governments in the region, agencies operating major transportation systems, and state officials. 25 ISTEA and its implementing regulations required MPOs and state planning agencies to develop 20-year regional plans outlining in detail the priorities, policies, and strategies for the region s transportation system. 26 MPOs were also required to prepare, with community involvement, a Transportation Improvement Program listing the transportation projects that would be undertaken in the next three years. 27 In addition, ISTEA made a number of changes that addressed the allocation of federal funding. Most important, mass transit was given the same federal funding match as highways, thus taking a step toward eliminating the clear policy preference for highway spending. In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, which directed federal agencies to incorporate achieving environmental justice as part of their missions. As a result of 5

15 this order, transportation agencies issued guidance for incorporating environmental justice principles into existing programs, policies, and activities. DOT s order on environmental justice indicates that President Clinton s executive order was intended to encompass social and economic effects interrelated to adverse human health and environmental effects. 28 When ISTEA expired in 1998, Congress passed TEA-21, 29 which currently governs federal funding of surface transportation systems. This act is one of the major tools through which transportation planning and implementation can be made more responsive to equity and environmental justice concerns. 30 With a $217 billion spending allocation for transportation projects over a six-year period ( inclusive), 31 TEA-21 has been called the largest public works bill enacted in the nation s history. 32 TEA-21 retains the general decision-making structure and planning process that ISTEA created for distributing federal transportation spending to states and metropolitan areas. 33 TEA- 21, however, significantly strengthened the opportunities for public involvement and required greater responsiveness to the concerns of minority and low-income communities in the transportation planning process. Other objectives of TEA-21 focus on improving low-income persons transportation mobility levels by ensuring that public transportation provided through different modes and by different agencies are coordinated to ensure connections between people and jobs, goods and markets, and neighborhoods. 34 TEA-21 also established grant programs to help serve the transportation needs of minority and low-income communities. For example, it authorized the Job Access and Reverse Commute grant programs, which provide federal funds to states, local governments, local transit agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Job Access grants were intended to provide new or expanded transportation services to help welfare recipients and eligible low-income individuals get to jobs and employment-related services (education, training, child care, etc.). Reverse Commute grants were designed to transport individuals to suburban employment centers from urban, rural, and other suburban locations. TEA-21 also established the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Pilot Program, which supports local activities to help better integrate land use and transportation planning. Some other federal laws that are not primarily concerned with transportation have provisions addressing some aspect of transportation equity. For example, the welfare reform act formally known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was intended to move people off public assistance to some form of employment. 35 Federal policymakers, recognizing in 1997 that most households in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program created by the new welfare law had limited transportation mobility, funded a welfare-to-work grant program that could be used for transportation assistance. For fiscal years 1998 and 1999, $3 billion was allocated to states to address mobility needs. 36 6

16 DEMOGRAPHIC REALITIES The current effect of surface transportation policies on minority and low-income communities can best be understoood in the context of general demographic facts that show how transportation, race, poverty, and geography intersect. The 2000 census provided tremendous amounts of new demographic information that map changes in the American population and the characteristics of its minority population over the past decade. Analysis of the census data shows persistent disparities between whites and people of color. Residence Where people live can greatly affect what types of transportation options are available to them to travel to work and to carry out their daily activities. Although America s population is approximately 69 percent White, 12 percent African American, 12.5 percent Latino, and 3.6 percent Asian American, 37 the composition of major U.S. cities and urban areas is quite different. Since 1960, people of color have increasingly populated metropolitan areas. 38 Only 52 of the 100 largest cities have a majority white population, according to 2000 census data. 39 The 100 largest cities generally saw an increase in Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans and a decrease in whites, with the Latino population growing the most rapidly. 40 (See Table 1.) Table 1. Central-City Racial Composition of Selected Large Cities City % White, Non- Hispanic % African American % Latino % Asian American Los Angeles New York Chicago Philadelphia Washington, DC Detroit Houston Atlanta Dallas Boston Note: These cities are in the 10 largest primary metropolitan statistical areas. Source: Lewis Mumford Center (http://mumford1.dyndns.org/cen2000/wholepop/wpdownload.html). Metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, have increased in population since 1910, but suburban growth has accounted for most of these increases. 41 By 2000, half of all Americans lived in the suburbs. 42 Although more minorities are living in the suburbs than in 1990, whites still have the highest percentage of any racial group living in the suburbs (71%). 43 In the top 102 most populous metropolitan areas, minorities comprised only 27 percent of suburban populations. 44 7

17 As these facts about the populations of cities and suburbs suggest, residential segregation continues to persist. On average, African Americans, Latinos, and whites live in neighborhoods with people primarily of the same race. 45 Over the past 20 years, however, overall racial segregation levels have declined across U.S. metropolitan areas. 46 One report examining five different indicators of metropolitan residential segregation found that overall residential segregation declined between 4 and 11 percent between 1980 and From 1980 to 1990 the overall rate of change was approximately 3.8 percent, while from 1990 to 2000 it was 3.4 percent suggesting that racial integration slowed during the 1990s compared with the 1980s. These modest changes are shown in Figure 1. Generally, since 1980, Latino white and Asian white segregation levels have remained approximately the same. 48 Black white segregation remains significantly higher than the levels of segregation for other minority groups. 49 Trends in residential segregation also vary by region, metropolitan size, and racial composition. It is unclear whether integration is occurring generally for racial minorities or whether it is isolated to more mobile, middle-class households. Figure 1. Residential Segregation Indices for all U.S. Metropolitan Areas African Americans Dissimilarity Index Hispanic or Latinos Asians and Pacific Islanders American Indians and Alaska Natives Year Note: Higher values indicate more segregation; the reference group is non-hispanic whites. Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Summary File 1, ; Iceland, Weinberg, and Steinmetz (2002). Income and Wealth While these general trends suggest that residential segregation is decreasing somewhat in metropolitan areas, the unequal distribution of metropolitan household incomes has not made a corresponding improvement. For example, the neighborhood income gap for African Americans and whites increased in absolute and percentage terms in 40 of the 50 largest metros. 50 In fact, research shows that the level of income inequality in the United States is increasing and that the United States ranks at the bottom in income equality compared with other industrialized 8

18 countries. 51 Trends at the national level are symptomatic of income distribution disparities at the state, regional, and local levels and have far-reaching social and economic implications. 52 Disparities in poverty levels between whites and minorities remain, even though these levels are low for all groups compared with levels found by previous surveys. In 2001, whites had a poverty rate of approximately 8 percent compared with 23 percent for African Americans, 21 percent for Latinos, 53 and 10 percent for Asian Americans. 54 Consistent with these figures are the facts that generally: 1) The poverty rate in cities is almost double the suburban rate, 2) cities have significantly higher unemployment rates than the suburbs, and 3) there is an income gap between those living in the cities and in the suburbs. 55 Household wealth or assets minus debts differs significantly by race as well. In 1995, the median household wealth was $40, For non-hispanic white households, the median wealth was $49,030. For African-American households it was only $7,073, and for Latino households it was $7,255. For those in the bottom 20 percent, the median wealth by race was $9,700 for non-hispanic white households, $1,500 for African-American households, and $1,300 for Latino households. Forty-four percent of the wealth in the United States was invested in homes and 8 percent was in motor vehicles. The median value of homes owned was $50,000 and the median value of motor vehicles was $6,675. The section Transportation Costs and Inequities discusses the implications of transportation costs and car ownership for wealth accumulation. Transportation Modes People s income levels generally correspond with their ability to own a car and the type of transportation they use. The vast majority of Americans rely on cars to meet their transportation needs, but minorities have significantly higher rates of lacking cars. Only 7 percent of white households own no cars. 57 However, 24 percent of African-American households, 17 percent of Latino households, and 13 percent of Asian-American households own no cars. 58 In part, because people of color have higher poverty rates, they also have higher rates of using public transportation 59 to travel to work. Only 3 percent of whites rely on public transportation to get to work compared with 12 percent of African Americans, 9 percent of Latinos, and 10 percent of Asian Americans (see Figure 2). 60 In urban areas, African Americans and Latinos together comprise 54 percent of public transportation users (62 percent of all bus riders, 35 percent of all subway riders, and 29 percent of all commuter rail riders.) 61 9

19 Figure 2. Users of Public Transportation to Travel to Work, by Race 14% 12% 10% Percentage of Race 8% 6% 4% 2% 0% White Latino Asian American African American Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census (n.d.) DEFINING TRANSPORTATION EQUITY Before examining the specific economic and social effects of transportation policies on minority and low-income communities, it is necessary to define transportation equity. While most transportation planners are concerned primarily with the efficiency and cost of transportation, including people s mobility levels and the accessibility of transportation to the most people, those concerned about transportation equity seek fairness in mobility and accessibility levels across race, class, gender, and disability. The ultimate objective of transportation equity is to provide equal access to social and economic opportunity by providing equitable levels of access to all places. In the United States, concern about providing equal access to social and economic opportunity has mostly centered around an issue first identified by John Kain (1968) that is now commonly referred to as the spatial mismatch hypothesis. Spatial mismatch refers to the disconnect between the locations of housing and jobs suitable for lower-income people. In other words, those who most need entry-level jobs (primarily people of color) generally live in central cities while entry-level jobs are mostly in suburban locations that are not easily accessible from central cities. In England, however, policymakers and advocates often take a broader view of social inequity. The British effort to combat social exclusion is a more wide-ranging approach than the American battle against spatial mismatch. 62 Efforts to eradicate social exclusion address communities that are isolated from or marginalized by general society. The English government defines social exclusion as a shorthand term for what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown

20 Instead of directly addressing spatial equity questions through housing and land use policies that would improve housing affordability, discourage sprawling development, and improve enforcement of housing discrimination laws, U.S. policymakers have directed significant attention to overcoming the combined problem of residential segregation and limited employment accessibility for low-income persons by improving their transportation mobility. Federal policies fail to directly address the more fundamental issue of access and participation on a broad scale. In the United States, attempts to counter spatial inequity are usually limited to improving housing and employment access represented in some respects by residential segregation whereas social exclusion is a much broader concept. It encompasses concerns about 1) physical (personal) exclusion, 2) geographic exclusion, 3) exclusion from facilities, 4) economic exclusion, 5) temporal exclusion, 6) fear-based exclusion, and 7) space exclusion. Addressing social exclusion includes addressing problems such as lack of access to jobs, education, and training; low levels of access to public transportation at particular times of the day, which has an impact on persons without cars working late and early-morning shifts; and limited access to public and private spaces because of unsafe conditions and design. 64 Transportation equity is a similarly broad concept. The importance of transportation policies and their inequitable effect on minority and low-income communities by limiting access to social and economic opportunities must be understood in this broader context. TRANSPORTATION COSTS AND INEQUITIES Economic Impact of Transportation Policy on Low-Income and Minority Households Transportation policies have a direct effect on low-income, minority communities by making it difficult to access transportation to various places. Federal, state, and local transportation policies emphasizing highway construction have led to dependency on automobiles and rising transportation costs. Generally, 80 cents of every dollar spent on federal surface transportation programs is earmarked for highways, and 20 cents is earmarked for public transportation (which includes both bus and rail transit). Although 20 percent of federal transportation funding is generally allocated to public transit, for various reasons, states are unlikely to be devoting 20 percent of their overall transportation expenditures to public transportation. 65 Thirty states restrict use of their gasoline tax revenues to funding highway programs only. 66 Revenues from gas taxes are the single largest funding source for transportation programs. Several other states allow only a small portion of gas tax revenues to be spent on transit. For example, Michigan allocates for public transportation 10 percent or less of its state gas tax and related transportation revenue. 67 In Alabama, the Birmingham metropolitan region has struggled to raise state and local revenue to match more than $80 million in federal grants for public transportation largely because the state constitution prohibits the use of gas tax revenue for this purpose. 68 At the local level, funds spent on bus transit capital and operating expenses sometimes add up to a small percentage of funds spent on all different types of transit and may be much less than the 20 percent allocated by federal policy

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